Big plays on defense lead Marion to 20-7 win at Lyons

Big plays on defense lead the Marion Warriors to a 20-7 season opening victory Friday night in Lyons.

Bending, but only breaking once, the Warrior defense came up with play after play to stop the Lions? momentum.

On the Lions? first offensive series senior defensive end Les Riggs emerged from the trenches to sack quarterback Matthew Vincent on third and 20 to force a punt.

A Lyons? illegal stick penalty on the Warriors? return moved the Lions back to?their own five-yard line for 4th and 45.

A short punt by Lyons gave the Warriors a short field to work with, starting their first offensive possession at the Lyons? 34-yard line.

Riggs started the three-play, 34-yard touchdown scoring drive with runs of seven and 12 yards. Colten Johnson capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run.

After a failed two-point conversion, Marion held a 6-0 advantage with 9:24 left in the first quarter.

Lyons scored its only touchdown after a short punt by Marion. On the return, Lyons? senior Taylor Stonebraker was taken off the field on a stretcher after a clean hit by Corey Hiebert.

Once play resumed, Vincent found junior wide receiver Brenden Lewis for a 12-yard touchdown pass on 3rd and goal. Lyons made the extra-point to take a 7-6 advantage with 8.8 seconds in the first quarter.

Vincent completed the pass after being sacked by junior defensive lineman David Helmer on first down and Helmer and senior defensive lineman Adam Cope on second down.

Lyons threatened again after a Dillon Richmond fumble was recovered by senior defensive back Michael Vincent at the Marion 18-yard line. This time it was Johnson who stalled the Lyons? offensive possession, intercepting a Matthew Vincent pass for a 23-yard touchdown return.

?I was just playing my zone,? said Johnson.?The quarterback just threw it right to me.?

?He?s just a very good athlete,? said Marion coach Grant Thierolf. ?He?s smart, usually in the right position, and just a heady football player.?

Another failed two-point conversion kept the Marion lead at 12-7 with 6:16 remaining in the first half. Another interception following a lost fumble spoiled another opportunity for Lyons to gain momentum, this time right before the end of the first half.

With under two minutes to play in the second quarter, Lyons? junior defensive end Kregg Clarke recovered a Richmond fumble. The fourth down turnover was caused by a Matthew Vincent sack.

Lyons ran one play on the ensuing possession.

Senior defensive back Randy Regnier plucked a Matthew Vincent pass on Lyons’ first play to give the ball back to the Warriors.

?Our defense was putting a lot of pressure on our quarterback,? said Regnier. ?It made him throw bad passes. It was in my coverage lane in my zone.?

With 62 yards to a touchdown and 1:36 on the clock, Marion ran the ball three times to end the half.

In the second half, Marion?s final score was also sparked by another defensive play.

Senior linebacker Conner Thierolf halted a Lyons drive in Warrior territory with a sack of quarterback Matthew Vincent on third and five from the 48-yard line.

After junior Mikael Antosyk returned the ensuing punt to the Marion 35, Richmond completed a 52 -yard pass to Dakin Leford, who rumbled to the Marion 14-yard line.

?The pass pro(tection) was great,? said Ledford. ?Dillon?s pass game has improved a lot and he?s throwing good. Just everything was going good that play.?

?We had great potection,? said Thierolf. ?It was a great call by Shaun Craft. We sold the run real well. We hadn?t thrown but one other time.”

He continued,?It just kind of set it up perfectly. And then Dillon made a fantastic throw. Dakin just chased it down.?

Marion scored eight plays later on a two-yard Riggs touchdown run with 11:56 to play in the fourth quarter. The Warriors completed the two-point conversion to lead 20-7.

The next possession, Lyons moved the ball upfield using mostly the passing game, but saw its drive end due to two defensive plays from Ledford and Regnier.

On third and 10 from the Warriors? 21-yard line, Matthew Vincent was sacked by Ledford for a nine-yard loss. Regnier chalked up his second interception of the game on the next play, picking off Matthew Vincent and returning it into Lyons? territory.

Another Marion fumble gave Lyons the ball deep in Warriors? territory late in the fourth quarter. The Warrior defense had one more big play left in them to stop another scoring opportunity for Lyons.

Facing fourth and four from the Marion 19-yard line, Lyons came up short on the run, but was awarded the first down on a facemask penalty on an undetermined Marion defender. However, Marion regained possession with a fumble recovery on the next play.

?We gave up one touchdown to a good offensive team,? sad Grant Thierolf about the Warrior defense. ?We needed to settle down and just make plays.?

Thierolf will emphasize taking care of the football in practice next week, but said with the option offense, the ball will pop lose sometimes.

?You try not to put fumbles in the minds of people,? he said. ?The type of offense we have where there?s exchanges and pitches and everything else, those are going to happen. You try to minimize them as much as you can.?

Riggs led the Warriors with 17 rushes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Johnson ran the ball six times for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Richmond was 2-for-2 passing for 78 yards, 52 to Ledford and 26 to Regnier.

Marion (1-0) will start Heart of America play?hosting Inman (1-0) Friday.

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